Bristol Bar had been closed only a few months before Jeff Mathes, the main man behind Barrio and Due Amici, transformed the Weinland Park techno spot into a lounge inspired by vintage French cafes.

Bristol Bar had been closed only a few months before Jeff Mathes, the main man behind Barrio and Due Amici, transformed the Weinland Park techno spot into a lounge inspired by vintage French cafes.

Walking into Bar L'Etranger, named for Albert Camus' French existentialist novel "The Stranger," you'll immediately notice a difference, both in form and function.

An almost clinical modern feel has given way to something warmer and fancier. Much of the exposed brick has been covered with wide slats of wood, and the main bar area is illuminated by small candelabras sprouting from wine bottles.

Dim yet inviting, the former dance floor in the back now looks partly like an antique Parisian parlor room, partly like a downstairs waiting area you'd see in a Wild West brothel.

Among the accoutrements: plush couches, pressed-copper end tables, wooden benches, wire birdcages and pillows woven with colorful, exotic patterns. Overall, you might call the style an eclectic gypsy chic.

Both rooms are designed for deep conversations, with seating set up in small pockets bathed in a soft red glow or the pinpoint light of votive candles. It's a comfortable, relaxing place to chat, sit and sip.

On the spirits side, Bar L'Etranger takes a big step beyond the slate of fruiti-tinis served at many local lounges.

The Belle Frappe ($10) combines absinthe, Cointreau, crushed raspberries, lime juice and sugar, while the Belgian Orange Blossom ($8) mixes gin, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, sugar, almond extract and soda. Wine by the bottle ranges up to $135, with a healthy selection in the $30s and $40s.

Prepared by chefs at Due Amici and Barrio, food specials are offered until 10 p.m. and include sharable portions of cheese, meat and salad.

Though its name smacks of European arrogance, Bar L'Etranger is a pretty cool place to kick back and drop some cash on quality drinks.